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Amazon Chooses Nashville As New 5,000-Job Distribution Hub

Amazon already has several distribution and fulfillment centers in Middle Tennessee, including this one in Murfreesboro.
Julieta Martinelli
Amazon already has several distribution and fulfillment centers in Middle Tennessee, including this one in Murfreesboro.

Hear the radio version of this story.

Nashville will be home to a new distribution hub for the retail giant Amazon, bringing 5,000 corporate jobs to the city in what public officials are describing as the "single largest jobs commitment" in the state's history.

The announcement comes the same day as the highly anticipated Amazon decision of where to open a second headquarters. The Seattle-based company says it will divide the new headquarters between two East Coast cities: New York City and Arlington, Va., in the Washington, D.C., area. Each of those sites is expected to gain 25,000 jobs.

More: Read Amazon's HQ2 announcement

Nashville's status as a hub, meanwhile, means it will likely oversee operations at distribution and fulfillment centers across the eastern United States. Amazon says it will invest $230 million in the hub, including 1 million square feet of office space.

Amazon says the jobs based in Nashville will pay an average of $150,000 a year. The company's hub will anchor the Nashville Yards project, downtown on the site of Lifeway's former headquarters on 10th Avenue near the Gulch.

In return, the company is receiving up to $102 million in incentives from state and local agencies. The state of Tennessee is giving a cash grant of $65 million, as long as the company creates these jobs in the next seven years. The city of Nashville is also giving up to $15 million. Amazon will also receive tax credits against its franchise and excise taxes.

Holly Sullivan with Amazon's Public Policy team said the company is betting on the state's workforce to fill the jobs. 

"Nashville is a place that has a great talent, great educational skill sets, huge higher education opportunities," Sullivan said. "We think it's a great location for us to grow."

More: Amazon's incentive agreements with the state of Tennessee and city of Nashville

Amazon currently employs about 2,500 workers in Middle Tennessee, according to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

“We are grateful for Amazon’s significant investment in our region and look forward to supporting the company as they grow their presence here,” said Courtney Ross, chief economic development officer for the Chamber. 

The city also worked with Amazon officials for the past months. 

Nashville Mayor David Briley said the company's investment will strengthen Nashville's economy. 

"I'm convinced that (Amazon) will be an incredible partner here in Nashville to build the kind of community that we want to have, so that more and more businessess locate here, and bring the kind of jobs that are going to lift the people who live in our communities," Briley said. 

Briley said a high percentage of Amazon employees are expected to use alternative methods of transportation to get to Nashville Yards. He said the city will work to build infrastructure across neighborhoods that will make it easier for them to walk or bike to work.

Ernst & Young Also Opening Hub In Nashville

Moments after the Amazon announcement, another company unveiled its plans to bring as many as 600 more jobs to Nashville.

Global professional services firm Ernst & Young is investing more than $20 million to establish a technology hub in the city. Tennessee Economic Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe praised the move by pointing out that since 2013, the number of tech jobs in the greater Nashville area has increased by almost 30 percent, far outpacing the national average.

The office will be called the Exceptional Delivery Growth Engine, or EDGE Center, and will include software development, design and other operations.

An official with Ernst & Young says it anticipates opening next August at a new office on Music Row. The incentives for that deal have not been released.

Copyright 2018 WPLN News

Emily Siner is an enterprise reporter at WPLN. She has worked at the Los Angeles Times and NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and her written work was recently published in Slices Of Life, an anthology of literary feature writing. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.